Martin Scorsese
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  • New York Film Academy Highlights Acting Chair Lynda Goodfriend

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    One of the many enticing aspects of attending one of the New York Film Academy’s programs is the ability to learn hands-on from professionals who have and continue to have such a strong grasp of the professional entertainment business. The best teacher is someone with real life experience in his or her field. Our Los Angeles Acting for Film Chair, Lynda Goodfriend, oversees the acting for film school with a tremendously versatile and impressive background, having performed and acted in both New York City and Los Angeles.

    goodfriend happy days

    After college, Goodfriend started her career as a professional dancer and singer on Broadway, Off Broadway and, as she puts it, “Way-off Broadway.”

    “It was everything I’d dreamt of! One of the highlights was to work with a young performer just starting his career as well, John Travolta” recalls Goodfriend. “When I started to take my acting more seriously, I began studying with the master teachers Lee Strasberg and Sandy Meisner, which made me believe that my ultimate goal as a performer was to be a ‘dramatic actress.'”

    After being in a couple of very small roles in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver with Robert De Niro and The Front with Woody Allen, Lynda drove to Los Angeles with ambition and her SAG card. To her surprise, Goodfriend booked a variety of sitcom roles, rather than the dramas she was accustomed to.

    “I started classes at Harvey Lembeck’s comedy workshop and would come home crying after every class—it was so hard! But now I love comedy and appreciate the actors who do it well. Among my classmates was a young comedian who could not get work as an actor because he could not stick to the script, but he was brilliant at improv. A role came up on the series I was doing (Happy Days) and they could not cast the character, so I mentioned this guy from my class. He came in to audition, got the role, and the producers liked him so much they created a series of his own—it was called Mork and Mindy, and the actor, Robin Williams, became a huge star.”

    lynda goodfriend

    Lynda Goodfriend as Lori Beth Cunningham with Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham on ‘Happy Days’

    Lynda is most well known for her role as Lori Beth Cunningham in the hit TV series Happy Days. Along the way she did two other sitcom series, many guest star roles, and several roles in feature films working with such actors as Tom Hanks, Bette Midler, and Julia Roberts. One of her fondest moments, as she recalls, was working with Ray Bolger, the ‘Scarecrow’ from the Wizard of Oz, on an episode of Fantasy Island.

    Taking a break from television, Goodfriend started her own acting school, The Actors Workout in NoHo (North Hollywood, the Theatre District), and developed two schools and a Theatre. She was also the head of a management company, Young Artists Management for many years, working with clients from top talent agencies such as CAA, ICM and William Morris.

    She came back to teaching in 2006 at New York Film Academy, teaching Acting for Film and Scripted TV classes. In 2011, Lynda became—and still serves as—Chair of the Acting Department. “I feel like working in this position pulls together all that I’ve learned from my acting career, teaching and managing careers. And fortunately, since my daughter is a talent agent at one of the top agencies in LA, it’s easy to still keep up with the current trends in the industry, so I can help guide our students.”

    “My goal for the Acting Department at NYFA is to continue to find more techniques and approaches to help actors learn their craft, as well as to expand our students’ opportunities to be involved in the industry after graduation. I love our program and have the honor to work with so many gifted instructors. Since becoming Chair, I have had the opportunity to add the Student Directed Plays, the Studio Classes (advanced “extra” courses in Meisner, Method and Chekov), Alumni Scene Study classes, as well as our extensive list of Drop In Classes—Auditioning, Stage Combat, Improv, Yoga, Meditation, Dance, Accent Reduction, Singing and Ballroom Dance—to support their training.”


    “This program is an amazing gift for students who want to learn everything as an actor. When you graduate from this program you can hit the ground running! I believe that everything you do in life teaches you something about acting, so in my personal life I’ve always tried to do things that challenged me—I’ve raced airplanes, climbed mountains in the Himalayas, and am a competition rider along with my Swedish Warmblood horse, named ‘Othello.’ No matter what you do or pursue it’s all about the same thing—focus, hard work and commitment.”

    The most important words of advice Goodfriend can give any actor that is pursuing a career are:

    1. Work harder than everybody else
    2. Don’t burn bridges
    3. Do something every day to become a better actor: read scripts, plays or anything you can get your hands on, go to the theatre, watch great films, go to class
    4. Never, ever quit
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    April 28, 2015 • Acting, Faculty Highlights • Views: 11112

  • Martin Scorsese to Direct Mike Tyson Biopic Starring Jamie Foxx

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    Mike Tyson biopic with Jamie Foxx and Martin Scorsese

    Nearly a year ago, Indiewire reported that Jamie Foxx would take the leading role in a Mike Tyson biopic, penned by Terence Winter. It would seem as though the long-rumored film about the boxing legend will actually be coming to life.

    More details about the film project have now been revealed, as Jamie Foxx divulged that he thinks Martin Scorsese will be involved as well.

    This all-star lineup has everyone excited, and none of the aforementioned individuals are new to this type of project.

    Winter and Scorsese worked together to bring to life The Wolf of Wallstreet, a biopic about the infamous Jordan Belfort. Foxx is also not a newcomer to the biopic genre, as he won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ray Charles in 2004’s Ray. 

    Foxx has also portrayed athletes in the past, starring as Willie Beaman in Any Given Sunday. This will also mark Scorsese’s return to boxing, having directed 1980s Raging Bull, an award-winning biopic about Jake LaMotta

    With so much star power behind this project, it is sure to be a hit. Speaking of hits, Mike Tyson seems to be pleased with the project’s current direction, going as far as asking fans to pick his best knockouts for Jamie Foxx on his official YouTube channel:

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    March 18, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 3373

  • Discussion with Renowned Matte Painter Syd Dutton and Special FX Supervisor Bill Taylor

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    cape fear

    New York Film Academy Los Angeles recently screened Martin Scorsese’s remake of the classic film Cape Fear. The guests for the event were master matte painter Syd Dutton, who was responsible for creating the stunning settings throughout the film including the iconic shot of De Niro leaving prison. This image left such an indelible sense memory for movie goers that it was parodied in a Simpson’s episode where Side Show Bob leaves prison. Our other guest was visual effects supervisor Bill Taylor, who oversaw the trick camerawork on the picture. By happenstance, the moderator was our co-chair of animation Mark Sawicki, who had worked with Syd and Bill on the picture and was responsible for shooting the final composites of the matte paintings.

    The conversation started with insights into the prison shot. Bill said that the shot was originally designed for De Niro, playing “Max Cady”, to walk below the frame but Scorsese wanted him to walk directly into the camera. A special ramp was built that allowed the actor to do just that. Mark shared that the last few frames of the shot cut from the film showed De Niro (always in character) apparently licking the lens. Because of the compositional change, the shot became much more complex, involving hand drawn silhouettes of the actor allowing him to appear in front of the painting. Mark recalled that the shot took eight hours to execute, with a fan blowing on the camera motor that had to run at extremely slow speed to prevent it from burning out.

    Syd said that the older studio system allowed for tremendous care and planning to create the seamless shots that appear in the film. One thing he shared with the current generation of matte painters is to always remember that the Earth only has one sun and one horizon line. Adhering to these facts is essential to create a believable and realistic painting.

    Bill related that lighting De Niro on fire was accomplished by a stunt double. The principal actor pretended to be on fire with nothing more than interactive light hitting the set. At a later date, a stunt double dressed in black against a black background, was set on fire and photographed. The stuntman mimicked De Niro’s performance and the footage of the animated flames were then composited over De Niro.

    In closing, Bill shared the value of control and advocated that shooting the real thing as much as is possible, limits variables and allows the image to remain based in reality.

    Thanks Syd and Bill for sharing a master’s approach for creating seamless visual effects shots in a classic film!

    mark sawicki

    NYFA Instructor Mark Sawicki (left) with Bill Taylor and Syd Dutton.

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    October 7, 2014 • 3D Animation, Guest Speakers • Views: 9691

  • A Standing Ovation for Jonah Hill at NYFA

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    Jonah Hill with Tova Laiter

    Jonah Hill with Tova Laiter

    Jonah Hill has come a long way from his brief comedic appearance in the The 40 Year Old Virgin, to his Oscar nomination in Moneyball. His comedic presence and timing puts him at the top of his class, and yet his transition into more dramatic roles has been something to marvel. This week, the New York Film Academy was thrilled when Mr. Hill came in to speak with students and alumni. As a testament to his comedic timing, Jonah started the evening shouting,”I’m here! I’m here already!” as Eric Conner, the Dean of Students, introduced the actor who had already been sitting in the back of the room.

    Jonah was in high spirits throughout the night, quickly acknowledging his true passion in life – making movies. He feels it’s what he’s been put on this Earth to do, and he encouraged the crowd to aggressively pursue filmmaking if they feel the same. “This business is so weird,” said Jonah. “If this isn’t the only thing you want to do in life, then leave the room and don’t do it. But if this is the only thing you want to do in life and can’t imagine doing anything else, then don’t worry about how much time it’s taking. It will happen in whatever incarnation it’s supposed to happen. But you have to just ‘make stuff’ constantly and don’t worry about ‘making it.'”

    At a young age, Jonah wanted to direct, but says he was really bad in giving directions to actors. So, he took acting classes to find out how an actor would want to be given direction. As a result, he fell in love with acting as well. He studied Meisner in school, but admits he now uses a variety of techniques that vary from film to film. He also likes to improv, as long as it’s about the character and not to be funny. Jonah recalled his improved scenes with Martin Scorsese in The Wolf of Wall Street. “It’s so cool that new stuff can happen, that no one knew about ever, and that makes the reactions real – because they’re hearing it for the first time.”

    In regards to the challenges he faces as an actor, Jonah said, “I think the most challenging part of being an actor comes from the days where something really bad is happening in your personal life. Let’s say some death or breakup or friendship thing – some personal thing that’s going on outside of work – and you have to show up that day and act and give your performance like none of that is happening.”

    His journey through Hollywood grew as he managed to maintain friendly working relations with so many talented artists, namely Judd Apatow, Jason Segel, and Seth Rogen. “You find the people who you’re creatively in tune with.”

    Like most people, Jonah recognized how some would have assumed he, being the comedy guy, would be an odd casting choice as the second dramatic lead next to Brad Pitt in Moneyball. Typically, once you’ve successfully done one thing in Hollywood, most people will push you to do the same thing over and over. But, for Jonah, it’s important to make all kinds of movie. “I think I’m a product of two things: The Simpsons and Goodfellas.” The Simpsons encouraged his taste in comedy and Goodfellas, the other side of things.

    While admitting he was nervous talking about himself, Jonah was very appreciative of being able to speak in front of our students and his positive rapport was undeniable after closing on a standing ovation. He’s currently writing a movie that he plans on directing next year. His new movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, will be out in theaters on November 15.

    standing ovation

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    August 21, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 9103

  • Martin Scorsese Drops by the New York Film Academy

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    NYFA Provost Michael Young (left), Martin Scorsese (center), and NYFA Senior Director David Klein (right)

    This Summer we had the privilege of teaching Oscar Winning Director, Martin Scorsese’s daughter. The Goodfellas director must’ve passed on his love for filmmaking, as his young daughter decided to attend New York Film Academy‘s Summer Camp to hone her inherited filmmaking skills. We were thrilled when her biggest supporter and fan, Martin Scorsese, showed up to the graduation screening at the New York Film Academy. Marty was very impressed with all of the young talent on hand, especially given the fact that each student had only one week to shoot and edit the film. Scorsese mentioned he will be filming his upcoming movie, The Wolf of Wall Street in New York City very soon. You can bet we’ll be attending a screening of his next film, once it’s in the theaters.

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    July 20, 2012 • Acting • Views: 6507

  • Whatever Happened to Francis Ford Coppola?

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    Francis Ford CoppolaLast week was the 40th Anniversary of The Godfather. I don’t know if you saw it but the AMC channel aired it repeatedly during the week. Watching those films again, it made me wonder…

    Whatever happened to Francis Ford Coppola?

    The Godfather was a huge influence. I mean everyone went to see it. I remember I had a friend who was ushering at the movie theater and would sneak me in. It didn’t even matter what part of the movie you came in at, you’d just watch it from there to the end. Sometimes I’d even stay to watch the beginning of the next show. We used to refer to the film as, “the Beast.” That’s how much respect we had for it. A few years later, as a film student, Scorsese became my guy (he was the filmmaker that made me want to be a filmmaker.) The Godfather was still the benchmark and with all due respect and deference to good ol’ Marty, he never made “The Beast”.

    Coppola followed up with Apocalypse Now. The stories about making that film are legendary—the enormous amounts of money, equipment, and insanity that went on in the jungles. But whether you like the film or not, you can’t help but be impressed by the enormity of the undertaking and the execution. It is unquestionably the work of a master filmmaker. And then… What? What happened? He never again fulfilled the promise of his early films. It makes me sad. What went wrong? Where did Francis Ford Coppola jump the shark?

    It started with a film called One From the Heart. You’ve probably never seen it. Few people have. It was a musical fantasy set in Vegas, and even though it pioneered some video-editing techniques, it was a disaster with audiences. Then there were The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. It seemed to us as young directors as the work of a desperate filmmaker who lost one audience and was trying everything he could to connect with a new one. Next he tried a Godfather knockoff, The Cotton Club. An epic crime drama, it even had the same sort of violent montage at the end. A pale imitation and another box office disaster. And finally, Godfather 3, the last ditch effort to recapture past glory. I don’t even have to tell you what a disappointment that film was.

    How did such a great filmmaker lose his way? Was it the disappointing loss of Zoetrope Studios? In 1969, Coppola decided to buck the studio system, which he felt had stifled his artistic vision. He created Zoetrope to fund off-beat films by first time directors. It didn’t work. Was it the pressure of paying off the huge financial debt in which he found himself? Coppola has declared bankruptcy three times. It’s not easy holding onto a personal vision while digging yourself out of a financial hole. Or was it the tragic death of his son? Personal tragedy has a way of putting ambitions of glory in perspective. In the end, perhaps it was just the unimaginable pressure of having to equal something as great as The Godfather.

    The Godfather

    It’s hard not to reflect on the somewhat tragic trajectory of his life. Early success does have its pitfalls. Compare the careers of directors like Spielberg and Scorsese. They all started out at the same time. They were part of an avant-garde group of filmmakers that were revolutionizing Hollywood. But where Spielberg and Scorsese are viable, influential, Academy Award nominated filmmakers to this day, Francis Ford Coppola has sadly vanished from the scene. I can easily imagine him filled with deep satisfaction and appreciation of what he’s accomplished. I can also imagine him with deep regret at what could’ve been. Ultimately, I’d like to think that with age comes perspective, if not wisdom, and maybe even acceptance. What do you think? Every filmmaker has to come to grips at some point with this issue of art and commerce. How have you handled it? Or how do you envision handling it? I’d like to know.

    Click here to learn more about the filmmaking program.

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    March 16, 2012 • Filmmaking • Views: 11591

  • New York Film Academy’s Top 5 Robert De Niro Acting Roles

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    Roger Del Pozo is the Director of Acting Admissions at the New York Film Academy. In addition to his work at NYFA, he has also been a casting director in New York for the last 10 years. In that time he has cast hundreds of television commercials, as well as films, plays, voice overs, video games, music videos and industrials for many of the top casting companies and advertising agencies in New York.

    1. MEAN STREETS — The original! De Niro’s first movie with Martin Scorsese is certainly one of his best. Johnny Boy jumps off the screen with such vitality and menace that it seems almost “too real” to be simply called a performance. Both hysterical and frightening, De Niro created a character that set the precedent for gritty, urban performances.  Some may argue he defined American acting from the 1970’s forward.
    2. TAXI DRIVER — De Niro’s iconic role is memorable for so many reasons. The delivery, the transformation, the impact on popular culture… The mohawk! Travis Bickle was immortalized as “God’s Lonely Man”. He frightens because he is so effortlessly real. Nothing about this character feels like a performance. De Niro famously drove a night-shift cab for months to prepare for this role. It shows. We don’t doubt him for a minute. Who can look at cabbies the same way again after watching this? 
    3. RAGING BULL — Of course the famous weight gain is impressive. Everything else about this powerhouse performance, however, also shines. De Niro won his first Best Actor statute portraying the troubled pugilist Jake LaMotta, and he definitely deserved it. The fight scenes are some of the most realistic ever filmed. Most importantly, he humanizes a man with very few redeeming qualities. A classic in every way.
    4. THE GODFATHER 2 — De Niro had huge shoes to fill playing the young version of Vito Corleone, a role made famous by his hero Marlon Brando. He didn’t disappoint. Winning his first Academy Award, he spoke entirely in Sicilian which he learned for the role. De Niro portrays a young Don driven by his need for power and revenge. It’s a study in quiet strength and menace. Undoubtedly, this role solidified De Niro as an actor for the ages. 
    5. GOODFELLAS — De Niro teamed up with Martin Scorsese once again. As the leader of career gangsters, he is chillingly and darkly hilarious. One of my all time favorite films, this film would’ve sunk without De Niro’s performance. Jimmy Conway is so vibrant and memorable that De Niro has parlayed his later career playing a version of this role in subsequent roles. 
    Do you agree with Roger? Give us your thoughts. Moreover, don’t forget to learn more about the acting program here.
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    March 8, 2012 • Acting • Views: 1966